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Re: “How Serious is the Wild Fire Threat in the Oakland Hills?

It seems incredible to me that a committee made up of appointed-by- city- council residents of the Wildfire District pretends that it knows more about fire prevention than the experienced, highly trained professionals who make up the OFD. The WPAD board in the past has attempted to execute its own "fire prevention"agenda, which, with the exception of the goat herding contracts, has little or nothing to do with fire safety. Many of the people in the Wildfire District do not even realize that the WPAD had nothing to do with private property. The goat contracts, and anything else that the WPAD managed to do, involved only city-owned, public property--so why should the owners of private property be expected to pay an additional tax for a service that should come from the OFD budget or from the general fund? Maintaining fire safety in public parks and other public spaces that all Oakland residents use should not be paid for only by the property owners in the hills. The Mayor, the City Council, and the OFD should be responsible for fire safety (both fire prevention and fire suppression), not a board of biased citizens who have dared in the past to attempt to advise the OFD on its policies, and how to spend its money.

Posted by Madeline Hovland on 06/23/2017 at 9:13 PM

Re: “How Serious is the Wild Fire Threat in the Oakland Hills?

Hills residents have shown they are willing to pay for extra fire prevention services and will do so again when it's clear that the extra funds would be used effectively. For at least 9 years, OFD has been short-sighted about all fire prevention work. It took the tragic Ghost Ship disaster to expose the ridiculous lack of inspection services in Oakland and wake OFD up to their responsibility to inspect commercial properties. The 2017-2019 budget process being done now is adding at least a dozen fire inspectors, which is a good start, but is only designating one or two of those full-time positions for the vegetation management and wildfire prevention staff, where 3-4 would be more appropriate for our large city. Not until the vegetation management plan for Oakland's Open Space properties is completed and data entry systems are updated to enable City departments to coordinate their efforts better, can a new hills fire prevention taxation district move forward. I'm not convinced yet that the fire prevention efforts will have a high enough priority within OFD. Time will tell, but I am more hopeful that the next Hills wildfire prevention district will be more popular and effective than the one that just ended.

Posted by batya_lee on 06/23/2017 at 9:07 PM

Re: “How Serious is the Wild Fire Threat in the Oakland Hills?

Why is no one talking about the epic failure of CalTrans to maintain vegetation along our freeways. We've already had a fire closing Hwy 13 and the excuse from CalTrans that they are "down one maintenance crew"...is not good enough to excuse them from responsibility. Signage is not even visible because everything's so overgrown. New landscaping is installed and promptly neglected by CalTrans. C'mon Sacramento...get down here and clean up!

Posted by S. Taylor on 06/23/2017 at 5:58 PM

Re: “How Serious is the Wild Fire Threat in the Oakland Hills?

What seems obvious is that we have two sides to a public safety issue. The problem is that both sides are wrong. The City has not had any competent leadership in the Fire department for a decade or more. As a result, the staff is poorly trained and there is no long term focus or establishment of priorities from the top in how the work is accomplished. Most firefighters see their jobs as fighting fires and EMT work. The ancillary duties that require additional technical training, like hazardous waste control, plan check, building and hillside fire inspections are viewed as nuisance duties, instead of a part of the core mission. The history and lack of performance in these areas have demonstrated that to be true. At the same time. for the people who live in high fire hazard areas like Ms Piper to think that they should be given the same level of protection as the people who live in the developed city is unreasonable. People who love the wild land ambiance and expensive views from the Oakland hills have to realize that there is a risk associated with their choice of neighborhoods. Most of the streets and lots in the north hills were mapped almost two centuries ago. The streets are not and never will be adequate to safely accommodate the level of growth that has occurred. The homeowners choose to take on that risk by the choices they make. It is like people who live in the hills of Lake Tahoe complaining that the bears are a nuisance. It is not the bears that are the problem. With that being said, somewhere in the middle is where both sides need to be. The City needs to do a better job in their mission and the neighbors need to take personal responsibility for creating defensible spaces around their homes whether the city inspects the neighborhood or not. If these folks want extra attention because of their own choices not to live where fire service is readily available, they need to pay for it.

Posted by Gary Patton on 06/23/2017 at 1:42 PM

Re: “Plans for a 'New' Oakland Are Taking Shape, but Existing Residents Are Demanding More Equitable Development

The state legislature has a major role to play in development. Most recently, it mandated that cities ease the creation of mini-lots and backyard housing, which have a mixed bag of good and bad effects. Where do our state legislators stand on affordable housing and neighborhood preservation?

Posted by Mike Bradley on 06/23/2017 at 12:45 PM

Re: “Living Downstairs, or Lying?: Advocates Say Oakland Landlords Pretending to Reside in Apartments so as to Evict Tenants

Ilona Nesmith Clark... dial back your snark: no one should have to live with mold at ANY cost - and that is health code ... that is a health hazard and they have every right to raise that issue and get action on it. 2ndly, the property taxes are kept in check by Prop 13 controls, so that bit of snark is inaccurate. 3rdly, he is complaining that the landlord is jacking up rent on a rent-controlled unit by nearly 300% by faking residency in order to circumvent the law.... this is yet another sleazy cheapass slumlord driven by greed.

Actually, when adhered to, Oakland has excellent rent control and just-cause eviction laws.

Greed is a powerful form of evil and once people are infected with it they just want all they can get, at whatever human cost. This is an example of another sick, greedy landlord exploiting a vulnerable family. I am sick of these **********ers. It was a landlord like this who owned the Ghostship warehouse and was just as glad to look the other way; or another who owned that disgusting sro on San Pablo that recently caught fire. Shallow greedy people.

Where are people who do labor like this supposed to live, in your fantasy of what is just and right?

Posted by Lynn Rogers on 06/23/2017 at 11:45 AM

Re: “Plans for a 'New' Oakland Are Taking Shape, but Existing Residents Are Demanding More Equitable Development

There is no history in Oakland, or in America for that matter, that views existing diverse urban neighborhoods as having intrinsic value. Instead, they have always been seen as economic opportunities for the development community whose baseline approach was to destroy those neighborhoods and totally displace existing residents who, because of race and lower economic status, don't deserve a place at the table in the planning process. In the late 50's, Black residents of the Filmore District of SF had to sue the City in order to be included in the committee required to formulate the new plan under the Model Cities program. In Oakland, since the 60's, for the most part, the top levels of the Planning Department have been occupied by UC Berkeley planning school graduates whose inflated views of their own intelligence defined the City by floor area ratios and height requirements. Moreover, having no exposure, interest or connection to the broader Oakland flatland communities, concentrated the planning focus on downtown, Montclair, Rockridge and Jack London neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, almost all of the Planning Commissioners during those years also resided in those areas and many, if not most, were professionals at some level in land development. The blatant disregard at the top levels for the value of diverse neighborhoods and their populations has never been better illustrated than former Planning Director Rachael Flynn's statement that there was no housing crisis in Oakland. More concerning is that there was no response at all from the Mayor or City Council for that obvious disconnection with reality. In the recent E12 st housing debacle, it was only when the Eastlake neighborhood became involved that the community benefits conversations with the developer began to develop. There has to be sensitivity to these cultural diversity issues by City leadership in order for any plan to reflect those values in the process and the ultimate result. Currently, I see the Mayor and City Council members continuing to make backroom deals with developers and doing their best to bypass the neighbors.That is not a good sign for the immediate future.

Posted by Gary Patton on 06/23/2017 at 6:34 AM

Re: “Plans for a 'New' Oakland Are Taking Shape, but Existing Residents Are Demanding More Equitable Development

"adhocracy has had another important result: It showed a different kind of development is possible.... Except while it made those already in housed in Oakland feel they had control of their neighborhood(s) resulting in...:

The strategy was similar: delay and negotiate... While the homeless crises worsens as population pressures in the bay area rise.

The gaping holes existed well past the early 80's and on into the 90's.

While anti-displacement policies are wonderful, in no way does they address the needs and history of the community.

In East Oakland, not far from where I live there was a thriving merchant community in the 70's. Now, liquor stores, smoke shops or just boarded up store fronts are what those streets offer.... That didn't happen because of "urban redevelopment". It didn't happen because of "gentrification" or "developer domination" or "unjust planning decisions".

It happened because a desperate community allowed self serving pocket Boss Tweeds to offer tidbits of bread and circuses and illusions of "community control and pride" instead of jobs and education... And did it for decades!

We can't build a wall and keep "those people" out. We can't simply declare solutions by zoning them away. Nor can we simply demonize those who have in the past or or now want to invest in Oakland. People put money and effort in because they see a possible benefit. No one works for free, but somehow the activists expect others to do what they will not.

While we're at it, can get someone to plant a money tree in my back yard? I'd rather not go to work in the morning.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/22/2017 at 10:50 PM

Re: “Oakland Police Commanders Who Buried Sex-Crime Scandal Investigation Were Later Promoted

Yes, the entire thing is a total cesspool of corruption that has clearly been going on for a VERY long time, but what truly amazes me is that no one seems to have noticed, or at least have chosen to not mention, is the under aged womans connection to an OPD employee... In and of itself a possible trigger for an unlawful cover up. ALL of the implications of that connection, and not just the more obvious salacious ones that have attracted the most attention need investigation as well.

While evidence may have been deleted from her phone, no one made an attempt top obtain a subpena to retrieve it from the cellular carrier? And the monitor was completely unaware of the well covered issues of case until March 2016?! Was this individual in a cave?

I can't imagine there is anyone (let alone a city politician) who would not be overwhelmed and distracted by not just this the mess, but the entire wild west environment of Oakland.


Again, while wagging fingers may be satisfying for the moralists, specific direction is more useful for correcting the situation... Which they seem to have gotten.

Suggestions that multiple investigations might not have presented a hazard to ongoing criminal investigations seem to be naive at best, and given the authors past reporting on the subject, disingenuous.

Better written, but still shallow and biased.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 06/22/2017 at 10:10 PM

Re: “Living Downstairs, or Lying?: Advocates Say Oakland Landlords Pretending to Reside in Apartments so as to Evict Tenants

So they live in this apartment for 7 years on $1100 a month and they think they've been mis-treated? I would like to meet the landlord who can afford expensive repairs for mold and down-spouts on so little income and still pay property taxes and all the other fees, oh and lets not forget the fee to the rent board which more than DOUBLED this year!
It is sad that people are getting priced out of their homes but rents are not the only thing going up and up. Housing is really expensive and no laws or "protections" change that fact. Sooner or later, someone has to pay up.

Posted by Ilona Nesmith Clark on 06/22/2017 at 9:11 PM

Re: “Plans for a 'New' Oakland Are Taking Shape, but Existing Residents Are Demanding More Equitable Development

Specific plans generally allow development that Comports with the plan to bypAss costly, risky and time consuming CEQA studies. Community (and the City, if they care to) are wise to insist that this boon to developers not be granted without significant give-back.

Posted by Andy Nelsen 1 on 06/22/2017 at 7:49 PM

Re: “Protests, Arrests After Berkeley Approves Contentious Urban Shield Program

The political forces that you would like to know more about are not involved with traditional politics. You won't see them on TV and their faces will never be shown in the media. Neither will you hear of them on a radio interview, or a talk show for that matter. You wont find them serving the community, nor will you find them on any ballet. And even though they have managed to collect the most root of all evil (Money) still you won't see them on the top 10 richest list. That said, why is it that with the latest worlds top 10 richest list coming out we see Bill Gates as #1 with 88 billion, yet the Rothschild's have accounted for some 350 billion, and the Rockefeller's amassed some 340 Billion? The system is such that people this rich actually have indirect control down to as low as the community level. And their system is so brilliant that it could not have been created by humans alone. Im afraid these people have what has been traditionally referred to as the Devil, on their side. That's not to say that they are unbeatable though. : )

Posted by caliwebman on 06/22/2017 at 6:45 PM

Re: “Letters of the Week: Our Readers Chime in on Gentrification and the closure of Picán

it is true that such things as greed and gentrification do a lot to contribute to the drive of rent control in areas like oakland and richmond. but, since the whole issue of housing contributes to the drive of rent control also, the land lords should be required to allow a certain number or amount of units for 'affordable units' within a building without regard to whether the potential tenant is senior citizen, afdc, handicapped, low income, disabled, etc. the labels should cease. there should be affordable units in the buildings or complexes and not just a few, but forty or fifty percent of the units affordable. this would be a good drive for the control of rent. make the units available, period. to do this, make them affordable without the labels.

Posted by Estella Davis on 06/22/2017 at 6:32 PM

Re: “Oakland Metro Operahouse Claims Harassment by a Neighbor, Who Says the Music Venue is Breaking the Law

DIVERSITY means people with different points of view, backgrounds, lives etc. Unfortunately, as evident in Nat's comment, in Oakland it seems to means be like me, act like me, do what I do or shut heck up hater. Sucks so many people look at this situation as good vs evil instead of that everyone is living in the grey area and needs to work this out. I love the Metro, but they're in the wrong, too.

Posted by Matt_Chambers on 06/22/2017 at 4:31 PM

Re: “Oakland Metro Operahouse Claims Harassment by a Neighbor, Who Says the Music Venue is Breaking the Law

Dear Mark Kraft: you obviously don't know very much about code compliance. A cabaret license is the exact license nightclubs are required to get.

Posted by Sarah Lockhart on 06/22/2017 at 1:12 PM

Re: “Oakland Police Commanders Who Buried Sex-Crime Scandal Investigation Were Later Promoted

I'm convinced that OPD's 'Deep State' is simply waiting out Judge Henderson, who is 83 years old. His death or retirement will mark the end of the Department's wheel-spinning efforts to 'look busy', after which they will return to their normal state of being corrupt as f**k and proud of it.

Posted by John Seal on 06/22/2017 at 12:51 PM

Re: “Oakland Metro Operahouse Claims Harassment by a Neighbor, Who Says the Music Venue is Breaking the Law

Shame on that Xavier guy as well, an absolute traitor and sell-out of the highest caliber. How can you be surprised that your scene friends have ostracized you when you've betrayed them in the most literal way possible? Shame that the charlatan Paley and his dirty money have corrupted another former member of Oakland's REAL creative community.

Posted by Max Chanowitz on 06/22/2017 at 11:57 AM

Re: “Oakland Metro Operahouse Claims Harassment by a Neighbor, Who Says the Music Venue is Breaking the Law

Brad Paley: yet another douchey money mogul with an over-inflated ego that thinks he can buy his way to "cool", and deserves to steamroll over any of the pesky Little People that get in the way of his Genius Vision. How many of these insufferable guys are there in the Bay Area, trying to ruin the fun for the rest of us? It never ends!

His vision for those knockoff TED talk "lecture parties" sound like a smug nightmare, I can only imagine how arrogant and self-congratulatory the crowd there might be! Paley, my boy, don't you know there's already a great venue for rich, pompous, self-described "Intellectuals" to jerk each other off over how Smart and Important they are? It's called San Francisco! Kindly fuck off to the other side of the Bay and leave our Metro alone.

Posted by Max Chanowitz on 06/22/2017 at 11:47 AM

Re: “Oakland Metro Operahouse Claims Harassment by a Neighbor, Who Says the Music Venue is Breaking the Law

Does anyone know why The Metro left their old 3rd street space? Was it rent? Seems like the isolation of the old space was a bit better to me. And just to put it out there, it really broke my heart when the metro blacked out the ricky henderson mural. That mural meant so much to so many people and was the only mural on 3rd street. Nevertheless, i hope the metro remains open, for the sake of oakland punk/metal community.

Posted by Adan Ortega on 06/22/2017 at 10:17 AM

Re: “Protests, Arrests After Berkeley Approves Contentious Urban Shield Program

What this Council meeting demonstrated beyond all doubt was that public comments at Berkeley City Council meetings are merely a form of false empowerment. Council members pretend to listen, or listen for comments supporting their positions, but comments against their predetermined positions are totally ignored. This meeting had 400+ people showing up and nearly all were against the militarization of police. In the 3-4 hours of public comment, only two people voiced support for police militarization. As with the previous Bates Council, the fix was in, the vote predetermined. Berkeley public meetings are a farce. It will take a major effort on the Council's part regain the public trust and demonstrate they are actually a representative body who listens.

I'd like to know more about the political forces that determine how the Council arrives at their predetermined votes. Who are the lobbyists who have the Council's ears? Are Council members so dependent on staff bureaucracy that staff can dictate how to vote? Or are there political groups whose influence the Council fears more than the voting public. In this most recent case it seems clear that Council members that voted for police militarization do not have the courage to stand up to the police prison industrial complex. One of the primary lobbying groups for this growth industry is the Police Officers Association (POA). One question to ask our Council members is how much are they influenced by fear of POA money and influence. What political calculation are they making?

Police lobbying groups have far too much influence on government. (https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/the-per…) They promote a culture of police secrecy and impunity, rallying to protect officers in scandal after scandal. A representative scandal is the recent sex crime scandal in Oakland. (https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/oak…) If we are ever to reform our police and create less repressive community policing that is answerable to the public, we must deal with this lobbying force. This lobbying is driven by investor interest in growing the police-prison industrial complex. That complex now imprisons citizens at more than 5 times the rate of the rest of the world. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/am…) Perhaps it is time to take a look at police lobbyists and who funds them.

Posted by James McFadden on 06/22/2017 at 9:56 AM

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